Saturday, June 24, 2006, Turkey
The southeastern Anatolian province of Şanlıurfa, considered to be the cradle of agriculture as well as hosting numerous examples of ancient architecture, promises new discoveries to shed light on the history of human evolution in the region.
Harran University Assistant Professor Cihan Kürkçüoğlu noted that every archaeological excavation to be carried out in Şanlıurfa would provide new information on the history of civilization in the region.
Kürkçüoğlu reminded the Anatolia news agency that Şanlıurfa is situated in the Fertile Crescent, considered in the literature to be the center of culture and civilization.
Kürkçüoğlu said 35 excavations were being conducted throughout the province in addition to the Atatürk Dam excavations, which kicked off in 1979 with the construction of the dam, and the digs at Harran, which started in 1983. Among these sites Gürcütepe, Kazene, Şaşkan and Göbeklitepe are of historical significance, said Kürkçüoğlu.
Some of the 80,000 artifacts that have shed light on the history of the Middle East starting from the Paleolithic age are on display at Şanlıurfa Museum, Kürkçüoğlu said, adding, "Şanlıurfa, playing host to a large number of excavations, is in need of a new museum."
Since the current museum does not have enough space, some artifacts are being stored in the museum's depot, he explained.
"More excavations will be carried out in the region. In order for the artifacts -- both those already discovered and those to be unearthed in future excavations -- to be displayed, the Millet Han project should be implemented as soon as possible."
Millet Han project:
Kürkçüoğlu said a project was drafted last year with support of the Şanlıurfa Governor's Office to restore Millet Han, which dates back to the Ottoman era, and to convert it into a culture center. The restoration of the building, constructed by Yavuz Sultan Selim at the beginning of the 16th century and which has served as barracks and a German orphanage, would cost YTL 5 million, Kürkçüoğlu said.
Should the project be completed, artifacts kept in museum storage will be put on display there. Kürkçüoğlu said the complex, which will also house bookstores and workshops, covers an area larger than that of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.